If research done on sperm whales indicates anything about whales in general, then whales don’t sleep very often and only sleep for short periods of time. Sperm whales appear to only sleep for about 7.1% of the time, and each period of sleep lasts only 12.7 minutes. Their periods of sleep occur between 6 p.m. and midnight. Also, sperm whales dive while they sleep.
Most research into this subject has combined both whales and dolphins, as their genetic makeup and mannerisms are very similar. Bottlenose dolphins spend 33.4% of their day asleep, most of this time is at night. Because whales and dolphins are conscious breathers (they must consciously make themselves breathe), they can never truly be fully asleep. Instead, they shut down half of their brain at a time, usually for about 2 hours. After that they switch sides and shut down the other half of their brain, always keeping one eye open and half their brain power to breathe and watch for predators.
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